10 Tough Interview Questions… and Answers

interview questions

Any time that you set a job interview, you know that you need to prepare yourself, even just a little bit. There are going to be a whole host of basic questions about you, but sometimes interviewers slip in a few tougher questions. These questions have an essential purpose to your future employer, and that is to make sure you’re a good fit for their company by getting a better sense of who you are. These questions can be complicated, like “How would you calculate the amount of rope to wrap around the state of Arizona?” They can feel impossible to answer, “Are you a nice person?” Or, they can feel like an all-out trick, “Are you willing to fail?” In this article, we’ll cover some of these questions and give you the tools you need to answer them effectively and land that job.

Are you willing to fail?

The short answer you should always give to this question is yes. Failure is part of life, and while it may seem like the ‘go-getter’ answer to say no, that can make you look stubborn, or worse, out of touch. The important thing and something you will see recurring throughout this article is just, to be honest. Talk about why you are willing to fail, and reasons can be to keep you grounded, to force you to learn new ways to accomplish a task or to encourage you to grow. The trick to answering these questions about your personality is to be completely honest; if you’re not honest with these questions then your interviewer will see right through it, and that will harm your chances of being successful in landing the job.

What is your greatest weakness?

Weakness questions are the toughest ones that you will face because in a job interview, especially for a job that you really want, you will want to stretch the truth and find a way to sugarcoat your weaknesses. Remember, your employer knows that you do have flaws and admitting them will make you look like a stronger person. This is because your employer won’t see you as trying to be perfect. Employers do not want perfect employees they want honest employees that will be forthcoming about the things that they can and can’t do. The only trick to these questions is making sure that you end them on a positive note and answering them in a way that you’re not down on yourself, but just reflective.

Why do you want to work here?

This is an easy answer if you’re interviewing for your dream job, but what if it’s just a job that you need? Maybe you’re not so excited about it, but the pay is what you need right now. Tell the truth! But, remember to put that positive spin on it. Perhaps you can explain that this is an opportunity for you to expand your skills, networking in the field, or because of the possibility for growth that it will provide you. The reason for this question is to see how this career fits into your big picture goals, and what those goals may be because they show a lot about you as a person. Don’t worry about whether or not those goals fit in with your potential coworkers or the vision of the company, make sure they fit the vision of yourself. These questions are designed to learn more about you, so let it flow.

Explain how you dealt with a problem with a coworker in the past.

Now, honesty is always the best policy in an interview, but you have to remember that your employer has no way of fact-checking this answer. The reason that is important is that maybe you have never had a problem with a coworker in the past (lucky!) but if you say that, you might come across like you are dodging the question or that you don’t feel like you’ve ever made a mistake, etc. If you’ve genuinely never encountered a problem with a coworker, there is nothing wrong with making a minor situation a little bigger than it was, or creating a disagreement to talk about how you ‘solved’ it. This question is your employer’s way of testing your conflict resolution skills, but also if you might be arrogant.

What made you choose an online college?

One thing it is important to note is that your employer will have no way of knowing that you chose to attend college online unless you tell them. If you do let them know, this may be a question that you face. Some reasons that you could list is that you wanted to work at your own pace, you wanted to be close to your family, or you wanted to stay at the job you held at the time. Your reasons for choosing to go to school online are entirely personal, and you should feel free to express them! Online education is becoming more respected and normalized, and you could do that for your employer.

Tell me about yourself.

Your employer wants to know about you, and this is one of the most direct interview questions you’ll encounter while they’re trying to do so. You should be open with your employer when this question pops up. Explain some of your hobbies, explain your interests, touch on some things that you’re proud of that you’ve accomplished, whatever you think it is important for an employer to know about you. A tip with this is that you should be sure to touch on a shortcoming you have or an area in your life that you would like to improve or grow.

How did online school change your college experience?

Like you read earlier, your employer will have no way to tell that you completed your degree online unless you decide to let them know. If that is something you choose to do, they might want to talk about how that affected your college experience. If this question comes up, you could talk about how it changed the way you strategize and set your priorities. You could talk about how it allowed you to work on your own and develop your ability to self-motivate or manage your time.

What do people criticize the most about you?

This question is another one that is designed to test if you might be arrogant, to see if you’re adaptable, and to see if you have the ability to be self-critical or to self-reflect. This isn’t a question that you should hold back on at all, be as forthcoming as possible. Maybe you’re too pushy, maybe you’re a bad listener, whatever the case is you should certainly be candid about it. End on a positive note when you’re answering negative questions like this, mention a way that you are working on this.

How do you perform under stress?

Everyone thinks that they perform better under pressure, but the science has proved time and time again that this isn’t usually the case, regardless of how people might view the situation. The reason that your employer asks this question is to glean information about how aware you are of your limitations, and how you may be able to perform in higher pressure situations that may arise. You should answer this honestly, but keep in mind that you probably don’t perform as well under stress as you might think. A good way to answer this question is to lead into how you deal with stress, or how you prioritize to avoid overwhelm.

Are you a nice person?

This is very clearly another personality question, and the truth is, you may not be a nice person. There is nothing wrong with knowing that about yourself, but you have to think carefully about this answer. Your employer expects you to say yes, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. Answer this question with the truth and a short explanation about why you believe that to be. One important tip to answering this is making sure that you don’t sound like a total pushover, but also that you don’t sound like a jerk. Maintain your confidence, and you should do fine!